Interview with Cornelia Rindt
Lisa Cloete (LC): 1. Thank you for joining us today Cornelia. Can you tell us a bit more about the work you do at NatureBank?
Cornelia Rindt (CR): I am the Director for Domestic Land Use for NatureBank and what that means is that I look after the development of our Canadian-based projects which focuses on forestry, grasslands and wetland projects, with a strong emphasis on Indigenous people and communities to bring these projects forward so that the revenue streams can help support a conservation economy within their communities.
One of the most amazing parts of my job has been working with these communities on the ground, and helping them figure out how we can bring about changes in land management practices that will then lead to a sustainable economy, that will then also lead to a diversification of their economy that can result in an increase in jobs that can build on the stewardship roles already in place. I am also now working on research to support the development of a blue carbon protocol here on the West Coast.
LC: Can you tell us a little about your successes and/or learning’s in developing carbon markets in forests in the regions where you work? How translatable will these learning’s be to work with other First Nation’s across Canada?
CR: I have learnt so much from the indigenous people about how they approach land management practices, which is very different from how the provinces approach it. It is always a very interesting conversation when we start to explain the very technical components of carbon processes, and after a long conversation with all these approaches around new technology and new terminology, the response is of a much more holistic view on incorporating carbon values.
It is always very exciting to go through these discussions and then determine together what would be the best scenario for moving forward. Our role here is not to tell anyone what to do, our role in this is to guide people through the regulations and methodologies to find the approach that works best for each community and what they are trying to achieve. At the core of it, communities decide what the project will be and our role is to guide them through the technical and legal requirements to ensure that the project meets the needs of the regulations and standards.
Indigenous people have so much knowledge and wisdom that its really just a matter of how do you translate that in to the document.
We cant just focus on carbon markets and offsets as the entire solution to climate change, and though there is greater awareness around this concept now, we still have a long way to go. Carbon offsets is a short-term bridging solution and is not going to address all of our issues if we don’t reduce the amount of emissions we put in to the atmosphere. In this we also have to be cautious about how we do it as we don’t want to over-estimate the volumes [of sequestered carbon] that we are creating, and we want to be conservative in our approaches to ensure that the quality of the offsets are at the utmost highest standards to avoid overstated volumes coming on to the market.
So that would be one of my big learning’s is a focus on quality, not quantity to really bring through a first-class project that will always put people and communities first.
LC: These are 20 – 30 year projects. How do you see NatureBank’s role over the mid to long term?CR: I can’t really speak to how it will shift in 20 – 30 years because so much will happen, so much already has in the 15 years I have been in this space. Our role right now is to be a third-party consultant to projects who are seeking to change practices around land management and to diversify their conservation economy. In the long term though, I do want to continue to be a trusted voice for people to be able to come and ask us how to navigate a quite complicated space to ensure the best outcomes for all.
LC: Thank you Cornelia for your time and insight. We are excited to partner with your firm and look forward to collaborating on a number of projects.